My son Patrick and my sister Joyce understand me to the very fiber of my DNA. Their understanding shines in the gifts which each chose for me this holiday season. Patrick ordered a lens kit for my cell phone’s camera to help with my role as social media hant for the park where I live. But he also gave me two books, a hard copy of Chris White’s The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, which I had previously read in digital orm; and The California Delta, a slim volume which I had coveted. For her part, Joyce sent a vintage tin box; a little pillow like the one which our niece who just passed kept on her bed; and ribbon candy.
As I rummage through my day, doing laundry and writing post-holiday notes, the pleasant stamp of being cherished floats around me. Wind snaps through the park, with a fierce roar and a somber chill. I huddle in a sweater over which I zip a jacket, warm socks, hot tea. Winter falls hard upon us now, with her voice in the trees and her kiss on the river. Across the meadow, I see the lovely home of one of the tiny-housers, with its quaint white siding and crisp black trim. Heavy covers swathe the furniture on the grand drop-down iron porch. The dog-walkers hurry by, no longer lingering in the meadow.
The last time I went back to Kansas City, I tried to describe life here to a friend. Leaving aside my job, I talked about the park, my neighbors, the freedom of downsizing, the notion of home. Her silence weighed on my words. I knew what she envisioned when she thought of Northern California: the beaches of Monterey; the mountains above Santa Rosa; the bluffs overlooking the sea’s expanse; the exhilarating drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, I shook my head. Those places have their own stunning beauty, but they have little in common with the Sacramento Valley and the Delta where I live. It might be Brigadoon. The notion of constancy comforts me: the ebb and flow of the seasons; the lushness of spring; the unspoken promise of winter; the rise of the owl at dusk; the cheeky crows; the patient weave of the wind through the barren willows.
It’s the fifth day of the sixty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.